FPC Illinois PVC plant continues to burn after fatal blast

25 April 2004 20:36  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (CNI)--Fires at the Formosa Plastics Corp (FPC) plant in central Illinois will likely burn for several days, officials said Sunday, and keep investigators back from the devastated facility where four workers died in Friday night’s explosion.


Chief Kevin Switzer of the Springfield, Illinois fire department told CNI today that six other FPC workers remain hospitalised at Memorial Medical Center in Springfield, and one of those injured workers is listed in critical condition.


The plant at Illiopolis, 25 miles (40 kilometres) east of Springfield, Illinois, is a major FPC production site for polyvinyl chloride (PVC).


Switzer said the plant was almost completely destroyed by the huge explosion that shook the area at 22:30 hours local time Friday (03:30 GMT Saturday). He said that at least 70% of the plant was levelled by the blast.


The cause of the explosion is not known. Switzer said that 18 workers were on the plant site at the time of the accident.  In addition to the four workers killed and six others in hospital, Switzer said eight other workers were treated for minor injuries and released from local medical facilities.


He confirmed that those killed in the blast were Joseph Machalek, age 50; Larry Graves, 47; Linda Hancock, 56; and, Glenn Lyman, 49.


At the height of the fire Friday night and into Saturday, there were more than 60 firefighters and some 30 pieces of firefighting equipment at the scene, according to Switzer.


All residents of Illiopolis were evacuated from their homes for several hours Friday, but Switzer said those residents, about 1000 persons, have since been allowed to return to their homes. The town is just over a mile from the plant site.


Switzer said a large warehouse full of bagged PVC continues to burn and likely will take several days to burn out. He said Illinois state and US federal environmental officials are at the scene along with investigators from the Springfield fire department and from the US Chemical Safety & Hazard Investigation Board (CSB).


FPC officials are at the scene, Switzer said, but they were not immediately available for comment. No one was available Sunday afternoon at the FPC US headquarters office at Livingston, New Jersey.

By: Joe Kamalick
+1 713 525 2653

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